A lidded box can be perfect Valentine’s Day gift for the person you love. It’s small, classic, unique, simple, and on top of these things: beautiful. All you need is some off-cuts or rescued firewood, basic woodworking skills, and following the steps I am going to show you.

Now, let’s begin.

Preparation

Let’s prepare some tools you need in this project:

  1. A 4-jaw chuck
  2. A half round scraper
  3. 1/16” parting tool
  4. ¼” parting tools
  5. Spindle/detail gouge
  6. 75” x 2.75” x 4-inch stock

Making a lidded box is a detailed job. Since it involves a tube shape, we need to know exactly where the central point is. To do this, draw 2 diagonal lines. The central point is where those 2 lines meet. Next, mount the blank on a lathe.

 

  1. Use a roughing gouge to turn the square block into a cylinder.
  2. Use the ¼” parting tool to cut a tenon on both ends. Size them so they’ll fit your chuck.

 

  1. Remove the blank and put your 4-jaw chuck into the lathe. Mount the stock back.
  2. Use your 1/16” parting tool to separate the bottom from the top. The narrow kerf will maintain the grain continuity. As you move closer to the end, reduce your lathe speed and hold the base lightly as it begins to separate from the top. While holding the base with your hand, turn off the lathe. Remove the base when it stops completely.
  3. Place your spindle gouge on the underside of the lid and use it to cut the tenon. Measure 1/8” from the outer edge and start from that point to form the lip. End the cut when you have reached the tenon point.
  4. Place your round nosed scraper in the center of the lid and cut a dome shape. Start from the center outward towards the tenon. Sand the dome with at least 320-grit.
  5. Use a divider to measure the tenon diameter. Mount the base in the chuck after removing the lid. Next, the divider should be narrowed down by 1/8”.
  6. Set your lathe at its slowest speed and place the calipers on the center of the base, without touching it. Score the base very lightly using the caliper leg. Deepen the score once the mark has been centered.
  7. Use a spindle gouge to shape the top part. Hollow out the central part to 1/2” deep using a round nose scraper.
  8. Use a narrow parting tool to widen the mortise. Carefully make light cuts toward the center. Straighten out the taper after the size of the mortise and tenon fits perfectly. Adjust accordingly.
  9. As you’re getting closer to the fit, get a pencil and rub it around the tenon. Place it on the underside of the lid and begin the cove cut. Once done, you can use alcohol, pencil eraser, or some sanding to remove the pencil mark.
  10. Use a spindle gouge to shape the box.
  11. Once you’ve completed the box profile, remove the tailstock. Take light cuts. Your bevel should always be in contact with the lid. Once done, sand your box with 320-grit.
  12. After removing the lid, measure the narrowest diameter of your box. Subtract ¼” to get the right size of the drilling bit
  13. Slowly bore out the base interior, while regularly checking the depth using a small ruler. Spare ¼” thickness at the bottom for the finishing job.
  14. Use a bowl scraper to smooth the bottom and walls of your box. Take only very light cuts.
  15. Sand the interior using 220-grit.
  16. The lid might be too loose now to support itself. You can fix this with a shim made of doubled up tissue. Next, sand with 600-grit before applying the finish.
  17. Apply finish by using varnish/oil blend. Use a rag to wipe off the excess. Then, turn on your lathe for final polish. Once done, you can remove the tissue shim and lid.
  18. Make a jam chuck from everything that remains from the base block. Use a ¼” parting tool to turn a tenon. Measure the opening in the block base using a pair of calipers, then add 1/16”. Proceed to cutting until you get the right diameter and stop when the calipers have slipped over the tenon. Test fit the base. Adjust accordingly.
  19. Use a detail gouge to deliver finish to the bottom, while still on the lathe. Done!